Alaska News

Bethel family loses 35-year-old husband and father to COVID-19

This article was originally published at and is republished here with permission.


BETHEL -- Bethel resident Kevin White was only 35 when COVID-19 took his life. He left behind four children, ages 14 years to 16 months.

His wife, Liane White, said no one expected Kevin to have a hard time with the disease.

“Kevin said he overheard (hospital staff) say Kevin was the youngest patient with COVID-19 and very bad symptoms. They said he was a very healthy person, very strong, and they couldn’t understand why he got so sick,” said Liane.

Kevin did have a history of pneumonia. So when he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 29, Liane said, she was worried. A few days later, when he was having a hard time breathing, she took him to the Bethel hospital. She remembers when they parted: Kevin was in a wheelchair because he was so weak.

“He said, ‘I’ll see you later.’ And I smiled at him and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll see you later. Just call me when you’re done and I’ll come get you.’ Before I walked away, I smacked him on his back and I said ‘I’ll see you later, buddy.’ And he looked kind of embarrassed, but he giggled and he said ‘Yeah.’ And that was the last time I touched him,” said Liane.

Kevin wasn’t at the Bethel hospital long. The next day he was flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, and his condition continued to deteriorate rapidly. The family watched him fly off. By that time, they had all tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolating. None of them became as ill as Kevin.

Kevin was not at Providence a day before he called Liane to say that his breathing had gotten so bad he was being put on a machine to breathe for him. She was not allowed to visit him.

She went to Anchorage and phoned the hospital many times before anyone returned her calls. The next time she saw Kevin was after a doctor invited her to watch the hospital staff turn her husband over on his back.

Liane recalled, “I watched him breathe, and his heart rate going up and down, and they said, ‘We’re going to go turn him to his back and I just want you to be prepared.’ As they were turning him, his heart rate on the monitor stopped. That was it.”

Kevin died Nov. 16 at 12:59 p.m., just 18 days after testing positive for the coronavirus. Liane wants to thank everyone who has helped her family during this time, and advises everyone to take COVID-19 seriously. She advises people of all ages to take precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing.